Jim Hawkins’ development in Treasure Island Treasure Island by Robert Stevenson is an adventure story about a young man, Jim Hawkins, and his journey as he searches for treasure with pirates. Although only a child, Jim Hawkins matures and shows many signs of independency due to his experiences with pirates at sea throughout the novel. The first half of the novel demonstrates Jim’s reliance on the people around him, and what provokes him into maturing; the second half of the novel begins to show his transition to becoming a smart, mature man.
The following essay will focus on the transformation Jim Hawkins under goes from being a child, to becoming a young man. In the first half of the novel, it is clear that Jim is terrified by the events that occur and shows signs of weakness. One clear example of this is the moment the book begins, and Stevenson introduces Billy Bones. Jim’s frightened childlike character is evident in this passage: “How the personage haunted my dreams, I need to scarcely tell you.
One stormy nights, when the wind shook the four corners of the house, and the surf roared along the cove and up the cliffs, I would see him in a thousand forms, and with a thousand diabolical expressions. ” (6). This passage shows the nightmares Jim had of Billy Bones. Jim demonstrates himself as being a very disturbed cowardly character. Stevenson demonstrates the maturity beginning in Jim’s character when both his father and Billy Bones death. At this point in the novel, Jim experiences a traumatizing experience, especially for a young boy at Jim’s age.
His feelings are seen here: “It was the second death I had known, and the sorrow of the first was still fresh in my heart” (29). When Jim states “the sorrow of the first” he of course means his fathers sudden death. This sparks a sense of maturity and so begins his development as a young man relating very well to Stevenson’s theme of coming of age. At this point in the novel, Jim is forced to make decisions for himself, and has lost the reliability he had for his father.
The first time Stevenson shows initiative in Jim and begins to establish Jim’s maturity is when his mother faints, and he is forced to act upon this immediately. It is clear that Jim acts very well by dragging her under the bridge, aware that the pirates will be arriving at the inn soon, and knowing that it can be very dangerous if they are seen (37, 38). Jim surprises readers with this swift and intelligent decision. This begins to show Jim’s independence as a young man.
The novel continues with Jim’s achievement into becoming a young mature man. Stevenson begins presenting Jim’s quick, but intelligent decisions being made when Jim decides to jump in one of the boats going ashore to the island. It is seen through this passage: “In a jiffy I had slipped over the side, and curled up in the foresheets of the nearest boat, and almost that same moment she shoved off” (115). Stevenson begins to demonstrate Jim making his own decisions in order to find the treasure on his own.
Stevenson establishes Jim’s bravery when Jim kills Israel Hands. Jim displays no fear towards Hands by stating that “the process was so slow and laborious that, in my new-found security, I laughed aloud” (225). As Jim states himself, he finds himself acting strongly, and has found his security. It is clear that Jim is no longer living in fear, and has proven to be less fearful of the dangerous pirates he is fighting with to the obtain the treasure they are all looking for.
The biggest achievement for Jim’s transition to becoming a young man is when he faces Long John Silver and speaks to him differently, with bravery, unlike how spoke in the past. In the past, he would not truly speaking his mind, and talk as Long John Silver was dominant over him. Here is just a short passage that shows his confidence as he speaks to Long John Silver: “and the first is this: here you are, in a bad way; ship lost, treasure lost, men lost your whole business gone to wreck; and if you want to know who did it – it was I! ” (243).
Not only does this passage relate to Stevenson’s theme of coming of age, but it relates as well the theme of heroism in sea literature, showing a sense of heroism that has Jim had developed throughout his journey at sea. Jim’s tone of voice displays his newly found courage, and shows his transition to fully becoming a young man associating to the theme of the novel. What truly connects Jim’s conversion into maturing is how afraid Jim once was in the first part of the novel. In chapter 8, Stevenson demonstrates the fear that Jim has for Long John Silver.
Jim’s “finally [plucking] up courage” to go speak to Long John Silver (68). He even states that he fears him. Stevenson shows Jim’s drastic change from someone who feared the thought of speaking to Long John Silver, to being capable of building up the courage to outsmart him, and talk to him fearlessly. Jim’s character shows a great deal of maturity and independence which he gains through his experiences with pirates and searching for treasure. Stevenson emphasizes this theme throughout the novel. Jim Hawkins’ development into young adulthood is a predominant message and is consistent throughout.